Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5. USA, 2000. Bohemian Productions, First Cold Press Productions, , Weinstock Productions. Screenplay by Howard A. Rodman, based on the books Professor Seagull and Joe Gould’s Secret by Joseph Mitchell. Cinematography by Maryse Alberti. Produced by Elizabeth W. Alexander, Stanley Tucci, Charles Weinstock. Music by Evan Lurie. Production Design by Andrew Jackness. Costume Design by Juliet Polcsa. Film Editing by Suzy Elmiger.
Pleasant tribute to Manhattan life in the 1940s, with Stanley Tucci (who also directs) playing New Yorker columnist Joe Mitchell. Mitchell comes upon the story of the decade when he meets Joe Gould (Ian Holm), a wildly passionate, manic and emotional vagrant who has no set purpose in life except for the giant project he has been working on for years that he calls his ‘oral history’ of the Big Apple. Mitchell writes about Gould in his magazine and makes him something of a celebrity, the Oral History becoming the most talked about work of literature that has never been read, but becoming friends with Gould ends up being more work than Mitchell is ready to undertake. A uniformly excellent cast, all of whom give sensitive, natural performances, make up for the wandering plot and lack of dramatic strength, as does the beautiful and accurate glimpse of the period. Holm is terrific as Gould, so terrific that watching his fearless performance as someone who is not interested in winning people over becomes as tiresome as the real man seems to have been. Look for cameos by Steve Martin and Susan Sarandon, and a wonderful small role by the incredibly classy Patricia Clarkson.